Sunday, July 29, 2012

Name Them One By One

Like most folks on the Internet, I spend way too much time bitching about how wrong other people are.  I detest that.  Really.

I also spend an inordinate amount of time bemoaning the current state of our world.  There is much about which to complain.  The Syrian government is making war against its own people.  The planet is warming.  The US is in a near-nationwide drought.  Death and more death, hatred and bigotry and ignorance seem as rampant and ready to do their destructive work as ever.

I thought it might be nice, as the old hymn has us sing, to count some blessings for a change.

I'm grateful for being alive.  I realize that sounds trite, but it really isn't.  I have watched friends and family members die.  The simplest thing is the joy of inhaling and exhaling, the sweet taste of air entering my body, then the glad exhale that rids it of metabolic toxins.  The feel of the pulse beneath my skin, reminding me my heart is beating, blood still getting oxygen where it needs to go.  Life, in and for itself, is an abounding, overflowing joy.

I am surrounded by the most amazing people.  It is difficult for me to imagine someone more blessed and fortunate than I am in my most intimate relationships.  I was raised by parents who cared enough to give me both love and discipline.  They wanted me to excel, so they pushed me - at times I felt too hard, but don't all children feel that way? - to do better, to be better at whatever I was doing.  I was the youngest a five very different, yet exceedingly challenging siblings.  My brother and sisters lay down all sorts of challenges for me to follow, not the least of them being how to be myself.

My wife is the single individual for whom I am most thankful.  Anyone who knows Lisa will testify to her abounding energy, her great good humor and patience, her deep reservoir of love and kindness for everyone she meets, and an inner beauty that makes her outer beauty glow all the more.  No more prominent evidence of the reality of grace exists than my marriage to this singular individual who, day by day, amazes, astounds, and, yes, arouses me to no end.

Then there are my daughters.  Whoda thunk it, a guy like me having children so intelligent and thoughtful, so funny and fun-loving, so ready to face life?  I know I can never really do right by them as a father, but I try each day to make sure they know I am completely and utterly devoted to providing them with the best life they can have.

I have an amazing group of friends.  Really.  Folks I grew up with.  Folks with whom I went to seminary.  Members of the churches Lisa has served.  My co-workers.  I am fed and watered by their variety, the many things I have learned, the more than occasional ego-shattering that reminds me I'm just me, and while that's no big deal, it doesn't need to be.

I wake up and most mornings Lisa and I sit in our three-season room, drinking coffee, reading, occasionally taking the time to chat, catching one another up on our thoughts.  In the autumn and mid-spring, it can be dark, and we watch the sun rise, the light entering the room bit by bit.  In the summer, it's bright, the birds are in the feeders, the squirrels and chipmunks and rabbits out and about in the yard, and we marvel at our fortune to have our time in this place.  The coffee revives us.  The reading gives us our space and time.  Our sharing brings us together, reminding us how each day we need to renew all the bonds that tie our life together.

These simple joys, these privileges I have because of accidents of birth and history as well as the blessings I enjoy from a loving God, make each day something to look forward to.  Do they change the world?  I doubt it.  I never forget so much of these aren't so much blessings but rather, as I wrote, privileges that come from being American, being white, being middle class.  Yet, precisely because, being privileges they are neither automatic nor natural, I hope I never take them for granted.

Have a great and glorious day.  If you're not, take a moment of quiet and count your blessings.  You'll be amazed, I think, at how it keeps you humble and grateful.

Virtual Tin Cup

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More